How lockdown lifestyles changed Britain: Official figures reveal we exercise and socialise more

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People are exercising and socialising more than they did before the pandemic, according to new official figures that reveal the changing habits of Britons after lockdown.

As more people continue to work from home and cut out the daily commute, they’ve also found more time for gardening, DIY and housework.   

But questions about productivity remain, as time spent watching TV, reading books and playing video games is up but studying is down. 

The way people use their time each day has been studied since 2014/15 in the UK by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), with the latest figures up to March 2022, when most Covid restrictions were lifted. 

The average Briton now spends 25 minutes per day keeping fit, six minutes more than in 2014/15. 

More people took up exercise to fight boredom during lockdown and there was renewed interest in physical health spurred by fears that being inactive or obese would increase people’s chance of becoming severely ill with Covid f they were to get infected.   

People spend about five hours per day socialising or entertaining themselves —  which also includes watching TV, playing games, browsing the internet or spending time with friends and family — 17 minutes more than seven years prior. 

Britons have also found an extra three minutes to spend on gardening each day in that time, with the average person doing about 20 minutes per day now.

Housework are also got a time boost from 2014/15, with the average person now dedicating two-and-half hours per day to keeping their home spotless, buying groceries, or exercising pets, an extra three minutes compared to pre-pandemic.

Britons appear to have crawled back the time by cutting out commuting and ditching the office in favour of working from home.

How lockdown re-shaped how Britons spend their time. This chart highlights how people now have more time for exercise and entertainment and socailsing, gardening and housework than pre-pandemic driven, in part, by saving time on the daily commute by working from home

How lockdown re-shaped how Britons spend their time. This chart highlights how people now have more time for exercise and entertainment and socailsing, gardening and housework than pre-pandemic driven, in part, by saving time on the daily commute by working from home

In 2014/15 the average person spent one hour and 23 minutes each day on traveling and transport.

But in March 2022, this dropped to just 51 minutes, giving Britons an extra half-an-hour to spend on other activities. 

Time spent working from home has more than quadrupled in 2022 compared to 2014/15.  

‘This is NOT Covid 2.0’: Scientists calm fears about new Langya virus detected in China that first jumped to humans in 2018 and is infecting just a handful of people a YEAR 

Top scientists have assured the public Langya virus is nothing like Covid after reports of the new pathogen in China sparked fears of a repeat of the 2020 pandemic.

Langya henipavirus — or LayV — was detected in 35 people in the country’s eastern Henan and Shandong provinces between December 2018 and mid-2021. 

This means the virus has only infected only a handful of people each year since it was first identified in a 53-year-old female farmer. 

It was revealed for the first time last week in a research paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine, sparking fears about another mysterious flu-like virus.

But Professor Francis Balloux, an infectious disease expert at University College London, said the current data suggested the virus ‘is not spreading fast in humans’.

He added there was little evidence LayV can spread easily between people, which means it has a low pandemic potential.

‘At this stage, LayV doesn’t look like a repeat of Covid-19 at all, but it is yet another reminder of the looming threat caused by the many pathogens circulating in populations of wild and domestic animals that have the potential to infect humans,’ he tweeted. 

The ONS study asked Britons over the age of 18 to fill out a time-use diary recording how many minutes they spend on a variety of activities.

There has also been a change between the sexes, with men increasingly picking up their fair share of the housework and childcare.  

Women still perform the majority of household work, spending almost three hours cleaning, and 30 minutes on unpaid childcare per day in March 2022. In comparison, men only spent two hours on cleaning and 20 minutes looking after children.

While the gender disparity still exists, it has shrunk compared to 2014/15, when women spent an extra 94 minutes cleaning and 28 minutes on childcare than their male counterparts.

The ONS data suggests the pandemic has also changed how families interact. 

It found people aged 60 and over now spend 55 per cent less time, eight minutes less per day, looking after children in March 2022 compared to 2014/15.

The over 60s are instead spending an extra 10 minutes keeping fit, an extra seven minutes gardening, and an extra 28 minutes socialising or entertaining themselves. 

Since 2020 the ONS has tracked how much TV Britons watch and found that in March 2022 time viewing levels were at their lowest since the start of the pandemic, at just 149 minutes per day. 

During the initial months of lockdown, Britons spent about 183 minutes per day watching TV or streaming services like Netflix.

Even though exercise is up compared to 2014, it is still lower than the height of the pandemic. 

Time spent on exercise peaked in March 2021 at 30 minutes per day, the highest figure five minutes more than this year’s figure. 

There were a number of lockdown inspired fitness challenges, such as PE with Joe Wicks, aiming to keep families fit in lockdown when outdoor exercise options were limited, 

In its data, the ONS highlighted that the changes between the reports could also be due to general societal changes since 2014/15, not just the impact of the pandemic. 

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